The wet weekend did little to dampen the spirits of festival goers in Inverness this weekend as thousands of music lovers headed to Rockness 2012 to witness the monster line up.
The event was made more accessible with the introduction of the revolutionary Rockness Express, the festival’s very own mode of exclusive transport, and the only one of its kind, which runs from London Euston all the way to Inverness at a discounted rate.
Commuters were welcomed at the platform by Scotsmen in kilts playing bagpipes. Wireless headphones were handed out as passengers boarded the train. Flick a switch and you have instant access to their private radio station which played a variety of indie, rock classics, hip hop, and cheesy ballads. The DJ’s also hosted Competitions and quizzes with alcoholic prizes, as professional magicians and comedians entertained. This was all capped off with a Loch Ness monster that danced up and down the isles of the carriages. A 14 hour trip may sound intimidating but the constant flow of entertainment and music made – what started as just an inexpensive way to get the festival – a large and enjoyable part of the experience.
The train arrived in Inverness late on Thursday night and coaches were ready to take us to the Rockness site which gave passengers of the train first pickings on a spot to pitch their tents the night before the festival began. VIP camping was included with the Rockness Express package and trust me when I say it made a difference. Hot showers, clean toilets, and a stationary double decker bus known as The Breakfast Club which served hot food and drinks, were all exclusive to those on the VIP site. There were also free lockers to store your valuables and a phone charge points in an attempt to remove all of the usual difficulties whilst allowing people to enjoy the weekend.
On the first morning of the festival, weekend tenants were treated to a real sight, in the light of day, the surroundings were revealed to be visually stunning. To the left was the placid waters of Scotland’s world famous Loch Ness. To the right the mountains of Inverness were coated in a white mist. Everyone seemed to agree that this was, without doubt, the most picturesque setting for a festival they’d ever attended.
The festival’s performances were split across multiple stages. A new addition to the event was the Red Bull Studios which seemed to buzz with intensity from Friday to Sunday, attracting the more hardcore music fans who all seemed to have been ‘given wings’ by the golden liquid. Performances from Friendly Fires, Mystery Jets, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were some of the highlights of the weekend.
The Goldenvoice Arena provided perfect acoustics for Wretch 32, who seemed to adopt a rock feel to fit the festival, replacing previous instrumentals with heavy bass guitar. The arena also hosted Ed Sheeran who, as always, was pitch perfect. The crowd was thrilled when Wretch 32 returned to the stage to collaborate with the ginger haired Brit Award winner to perform an altered version of ‘You Need Me. I Don’t Need You.’ Fellow ginger nut, Tim Minchin, was the special guest of the venue who performed favourites such as ‘Rock n Roll Nerd’ and ‘Prejudice.’
Out in the open air The Main Stage displayed a huge mixture of genres which wouldn’t be naturally assumed to mould together but somehow, probably due to their arrangement, it worked.
Friday featured Mystery Jets, Admiral Fallow, and The Drums. Later in to the night Noah And The Whale, preceded Mumford and Sons and after witnessing the two bands stacked against once another you realise that there is no combination of bands that could more perfectly compliment one another’s music.
Saturday night took on much more of a dance vibe. The fist pumping and lighter raising aptly replaced with an overwhelming abundance of reaching for the lasers. The Rapture performed in the knowledge that their act would be quickly followed by the unexpected arrival of the Olympic flame that passed through Inverness on its journey to London. Beardyman delighted fans with original creations composed on stage before their eyes. And soon after, the headlining Canadian Deadmau5 sent them in to a frenzy with his elaborate stage set of what appeared to be a fifteen feet high electronic Rubik’s cube.
If Friday was dedicated to rock and Saturday to dance, then Sunday was a ambitious concoction of the two. Zane Lowe gave drug victim Alex Heriot, who sadly lost his life at the festival, a mention, requesting that the crowd lift a peace sign in his memory and encouraging the crowd to take care for the duration.
Highlanders, Biffy Clyro seemed the fitting end to the festival as they performed their first ever headlining act on home soil. Years of hard labour and touring has earned them the right to close the festival in their native land. “Maybe I’m biased,” shouted lead singer Simon Neil as he looked out across the ocean of faces, “but Scottish crowds are the best in the world.” It’s true that the atmosphere of the festival was electric throughout and as much as the music feeds the crowd, the crowd feeds the music.
Luckily, a moment arose to grab the newly formed American alternaive/hiphop duo The Internet. Questiuoned about how the crowds differ here in Britain to over in the States. Syd the Kid (OFWGKTA) replied “We’ve noticed that the people here are much more polite but also much more supportive.”
“They’re more open minded I think as far as new bands are concerned,” added Matt Martians.
“They’re not afraid to Jam. Because, Americans we have a thing where everybody wants to look cool so you’ll be in the crowd and a new song will play and you’ll be feeling it but everybody’s like“… he gently bops his head. “But here it’s cool because a new track plays and everybody’s like… YEAH!!! Know what I’m saying? And everybody’ll just start dancing and that’s really tight.”
I informed them that this attitude more than likely comes from the knowledge that we Brits are not cool.
“That’s so funny ya’ll say that,” Matt laughed, “because we think ya’ll are the coolest people. That’s funny man.”
“It’s an accent thing,” Syd confirmed. Ironically in the coolest accent I’ve heard in years.
Videos Courtesy Of Virtual Festivals
All Images By James Forrester